Coronavirus: Church ministers help in push to get Pacific people vaccinated

The push has begun for south Aucklanders aged over 65 to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Church ministers are leading the way to get the vaccine to protect themselves, their families, their churches and communities. They're also hoping to encourage other Māori and Pasifika to get the jab too.

"It's important for the leader to take the lead," says Iosefa Tiata, minister at Mt Roskill's Congregational Christian Church of Samoa.

"We've witnessed it all over the world so we have to make a move and make a stand and do the right thing," adds Renita Tiata.

After a quick temperature and health check, it was time for the vaccination - but it wasn't a problem, even for those not keen on needles.

"It was really good," says Reverend Dr Featunai Liuaana, minister at the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa in Sandringham.

"Like our congregation, there's a few of them afraid of the needle but having to talk to them - it was nothing, couldn't even feel it really."

Some people were so keen to get their jab they arrived two hours early, while for others the wait for the vaccine and misinformation has caused them to be hesitant.

"A lot of our people have been put off by the misinformation, especially a lot of them have been getting this mail through their mailbox by those who are against the vaccination and it's not helping," says Liuaana.

A recent survey found almost 20 percent of Māori and Pacific people said they were unlikely to get a vaccine, but churches say they can help put out the right message in the right languages.

There was no hesitation for opera singer Pene Pati from Sol3 Mio, who was back on Tuesday for his second jab.

"The whole entire process is seamless, it's easy," he says.

The vaccine will also keep him safe as he jets off to San Francisco on Thursday,

"Having the vaccine, having the protection of the vaccine actually just eases the mind a whole lot more. I can get out there, do my thing."

Invitations are now going out to older Māori and Pacific people and those living in their households that are over 16 throughout Auckland, and people living in south Auckland aged 65 and over.